So much has been in the news in Israel and in the United States—however, the similarities are not encouraging.
First, I send my prayers out to those personally impacted by the heinous acts of violence wherever they occur. For those of us in the United States, we all have been affected—not feeling as safe in our own neighborhoods as we did before.
In Israel, terror attacks are nothing new and boy I never wanted to join their club, but we did in July 2014 as we cowered in bomb shelters—the subject of my book, “Blasted from Complacency: A Journey from Terror to Transformation in Israel.”
But who would imagine that we would be reading about these recent tragedies in our U.S. newspapers on U.S. soil? The assailants are different, but still the core of both is, sickeningly, hate. The circumstances vary, but nonetheless the perpetrators are seething with loathing for others.
Writing a blog about tragic terror attacks in the United States should be unfathomable. What is happening? No one wants to exchange the safety felt in the U.S. for the expectation that terror is part of our reality—that’s how Israelis live on a daily basis and these are cruel circumstances to face.
In Israel terror attacks are unfortunately frequent. The fact is while writing this blog during the last couple of days— even today, I had to stop several times to add another attack by Palestinians on Israelis. No one in the United States wants to have terrorist attacks to become common no matter who commits them.
Palestinians send missiles, stab and shoot innocents, ram their cars into traffic and send incendiary devices—balloons most often associated with children’s toys alight on Israeli soil and eviscerate the fertile land with fire. All in a country the size of New Jersey.
Below are some recent facts from the Israel Foreign Ministry just since March 2018 and unfortunately the terrorism has continued as this is Israel’s “normal” into August 2019. So far this month a Jewish eighteen year old student who had just bought some books for his teacher was stabbed to death by a Palestinian,1 a terror attack was thwarted by IDF soldiers when four heavily armed terrorists were stopped before they could carry out their plans to kill Israelis,2 yesterday an Israeli police officer was stabbed in Jerusalem’s old city by two Palestinian teenagers3 and just today a Palestinian rammed his car intentionally into two teenagers waiting at a bus stop in the Israeli settlement of Elazar.4
The following are the results of what the Palestinian Authority President Abbas calls a “peaceful uprising:”
Terror from Gaza March 2018 – July 20195
- Eight killed
- 282 wounded
- 1,932 rockets/mortar bombs
- 841 petrol bombs
- 25 shootings
- 128 IEDs
- 2,155 fires ignited by arson kites/balloons (updated 2 July 2019)
- 8,747 acres of land – farmland, forests, nature reserves – burned
Israel’s Foreign Ministry estimated the cost of the damage done by the rockets, mortar bombs and arson: NIS 35 million (almost 10 million dollars); direct damage caused by the fires: NIS 14 million (almost 4 million dollars).6
But the psychological damage caused by Israel’s traumatized civilian population cannot be calculated as easily. It’s seen on the faces and demeanors of people and in the responses of fourteen year old teens living nearest Gaza, who still wet their beds. Who could blame them? Humans aren’t built to live with constant terror.
In Israel, soldiers walk down the street with their machine guns dangling from their shoulders like purses—but there is a true need there. Terrorist attacks are commonplace and I pray we never will say that about our own country. However, these are military people carrying the weapons, not civilians. We don’t want this to be a necessity here.
Unfortunately, shootings and stabbings here in the United States are beginning to mount and we have so many more people and states to protect.
I think that most of us haven’t spent time thinking that terror attacks would reach our soil, but then again would we ever imagine hate being encouraged here by powerful people? Almost all of us other than the native Indians are descendants of immigrants—how has the rhetoric become so vile?
Who could imagine white supremacists being portrayed as “very fine people?” —by the President of the United States, no less. If what is happening today was a proposed screen play a few years back, it would have been rejected for being too absurd. But today this is our reality—it’s shocking and needs to stop.
Add to that, the anti-Semitism and the current atmosphere feels like Germany before Hitler came to power and beyond. Jewish college students are being physically attacked on campuses across the United States and observant Jews on the way to temple in three separate incidences, men in Brooklyn just over the past few days were attacked.7
For years I’ve written about what happened on our trip to Israel in July 2014 and how the impact of being human targets impacted me.
We were on a family vacation in Israel in July 2014 when we found ourselves in the beginning of war which ended up lasting fifty days, although we were there for just two weeks. Long enough to have a profound impact on my life—running for bomb shelters with rockets exploding overhead got my attention. You’d never recognize my life today with what it was then—from a stay-at-home mom to an author, speaker and blogger who truly believes that other than raising her son, this is her life’s calling. And no, the Jewish guilt of taking my son to war for his Bar Mitzvah present hasn’t worn off.
The effect made me want to work on Peace. Writing my book I realized I’d been working on Peace all of my life, but it had been internal. I had to question what causes such destructive behavior by the terrorists to make them take such abhorrent actions, including ending their own lives.
The Palestinians in Israel are given many incentives by the Palestinian Authority, their governing body, to become martyrs—the term they use to become terrorists. For their sacrifice, the reward given to their remaining poor relatives the rest of their lives—a monthly salary. The more Jews killed, the higher the salary paid by their Palestinian Authority government who gets at least some of the funds from countries trying to help the Palestinian people, diverted from building schools and hospitals.
BTW, according to the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, the mastermind behind the kidnapping and murder of the three teenagers that preceded the 2014 Palestinian-Israeli conflict that we were trapped in, just had his salary doubled by the Palestinian Authority on July 11, 20198 (in this case he is still alive so he gets the salary instead of his relatives). How’s that for chutzpah from the Palestinian government? But then again they pay 13 million dollars a month to terrorists9 for killing Israelis and the international community for the most part looks the other way. It seems you get bonus points for jail time served, thus the doubling of his salary after five years. Often the perpetrators also can have a school named after them. Palestinian terrorists are encouraged to kill Jews and rewarded as part of their governmental system. Oy.
However, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is always complicated. I was just reading an article about Israel demolishing Palestinian homes built with the authorization of the PA on their land.
Israel described the destruction as due to the proximity to the security barrier causing safety concerns for Israel. Israel has laws that the Palestinians ignored with the encouragement of the PA and started building on the restricted land anyway. Too often the losses are predictable and intentional. “Israel demolishes Palestinian homes near West Bank barrier” reads the headlines. Internationally it makes Israel look like bullies, but why were the buildings being built in violation of Israel’s laws? But then again one has to ask where are the Palestinians going to live otherwise?
Like I said, nothing in this part of the world is straightforward and easy to understand. What’s consistent is that people on all sides of the conflict continually are harmed emotionally and/or physically. Does everyone living there have P.T.S.D.? I wouldn’t doubt it.
Now, are all Palestinians perpetrating disgusting acts of terrorism? No, not at all. Many work Peacefully among the Israelis, but they are encouraged to become terrorists by Hamas, the PLO, extremist groups—and even by their own government, the Palestinian Authority. They’ve made their people worth more to them dead than alive. Pictures of demolished houses and deceased people are plastered in the headlines.
The Palestinians launch thousands of missiles against Israelis. When the IDF destroys the tunnels from where they are sent and the Palestinians are warned beforehand by leaflets, personal texts and phone calls that the structure they are in is going to be bombed at x o’clock and to leave—they stay. Why?
Here in the U.S., who were the extremists committing the violent acts? In 2018 it was right-wing terrorists who committed almost all of the 50 murders—not the Mexicans or other immigrants that President Trump has accused of bludgeoning to death, beheading or stabbing their victims.10
So, it is with great sadness as victims are still being buried that I ask what can be done to stop the violence? Let Israel’s cruel existence wake us up and encourage us to find ways to prevent further violence. Once again, even the infamous Rodney King seemed to understand the direction we should be heading—“Can’t we all just get along?”
1 Judah Ari Gross, Student found stabbed to death in West Bank terror attack; manhunt launched, Times of Israel, August 8, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/soldiers-body-found-stabbed-to-death-outside-west-bank-settlement/
2 Avi Issacharoff, Response to foiled Gaza attack shows Hamas supports escalation, from a distance, The Times of Israel, August 10, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/response-to-foiled-attack-shows-hamas-supports-escalation-but-from-a-distance/
3 Avi Issacharoff, Response to foiled Gaza attack shows Hamas supports escalation, from a distance, The Times of Israel, August 10, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/response-to-foiled-attack-shows-hamas-supports-escalation-but-from-a-distance/
4 Sydney Dennen, Friday’s West Bank Ramming Attack Terrorist Previously Imprisoned in Israel, Jerusalem Post, August 16, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Terrorist-formally-imprisoned-in-Israel-598825
5 Wave of terror 2015-2019, Israel Foreign Ministry, August 8, 2019, https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Terrorism/Palestinian/Pages/Wave-of-terror-October-2015.aspx
6 Wave of terror 2015-2019, Israel Foreign Ministry, August 8, 2019, https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Terrorism/Palestinian/Pages/Wave-of-terror-October-2015.aspx
7 The Algemeiner, Three Men Attacked On Their Way to Synagogue, As Renewed Spate of Assaults Targets Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, by David Gerstman, August 12, 2019, https://www.algemeiner.com/2019/08/12/three-men-attacked-on-their-way-to-synagogue-as-renewed-spate-of-assaults-targets-orthodox-jews-in-brooklyn/
8Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, PA Doubles Pay-For-Slay Salary To Murderer of 3 Israeli Teenagers, Jerusalem Post, July 11, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/PA-ups-pay-for-slay-salary-to-murderer-of-3-Israeli-teenagers-in-2014-595302
9 Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, PA Doubles Pay-For-Slay Salary To Murderer of 3 Israeli Teenagers, Jerusalem Post, July 11, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/PA-ups-pay-for-slay-salary-to-murderer-of-3-Israeli-teenagers-in-2014-595302
10 Adam Serwer, The Terrorism That Doesn’t Spark a Panic, The Atlantic, January 28, 2019,